The evolution of POST
by Founder Karen Brown
In 1999, we began planning for the first Open Studio Tour with 13 artists. I had wanted to open my studio to show my artwork, but thought that it would be a good idea to have some of my very talented fellow artists join in to attract more visitors. Bill Hanson, Garth Herrick, Jerry Klein, John Phillips, Marcia Jones, Karl Karhumaa, Minna Aaparyti, Joe Brenman, Scott Rosenthal, Jim Ferrell, Chris Smith and Joe Winter took the plunge for $50 apiece. Norma Pomerantz , a good friend of mine who owned a graphic design firm, very generously designed a fold-out brochure for us for free and found us an affordable printer to use. At that first Tour in 2000, we did get some visitors other than just our friends, and it was fun to do.
However, to expand the event, I knew that we needed some sort of organizational support. Starting at the bottom tier and working my way up, I contacted several City agencies involved in the Arts. After receiving varying responses, one agency suggested that I contact Laura Maurer with the City Representatives Office of Arts and Culture, which at that time was headed by Carol Lawrence. They agreed to meet, and I sat down with Laura and fellow artists Bill Hanson and Jerry Klein. After showing the Office of Arts and Culture our brochure, and explaining what we wanted to do, they agreed to help by giving us in kind support which included office space, postage, a letterhead, a phone line, advice and more. I can’t really express how helpful all this was to getting POST off the ground…received with much gratitude on my part. With this help, we expanded from 13 artists to over a 100 for one weekend in October. At that time, Ed Bronstein agreed to join in with me and Bill Hanson as organizers of the event, as Jerry Klein bowed out.
Not only does Philadelphia have many artists, but it also has many arts organizations. Part of my goal was to try to bring all of these together to generate more clout and garner more attention. Some of the organizations that agreed to participate were The Alumni Association of PAFA, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Community Arts Center of Wallingford, Mainline Art Center, Woodmere Art Museum. Thora Jacobson, then head of Fleisher Art Memorial, agreed to let Fleisher be our 501c3 (nonprofit) conduit. Thora also gave me indispensable advice, many thanks to her. Rachel Zimmerman, head of InLiquid, agreed to design and host the website at no cost to us. Norma agreed to again design, free of charge, the now expanded brochure.
I had no idea how much work exponentially it would be going from 13 to over a 100 artists. I thought that I could handle it with only 2 or 3 days a week, and have the rest of the time for my own artwork. It was a miscalculation. It became a full time endeavor, at well over 40 hours a week. For the next 2 years, the work involved overseeing and coordinating the brochure, the advertising, the website, the poster and the finances (or lack thereof), meeting with the art organizations and the City, and figuring out how to time everything so it would run smoothly. In the 3rd year I worked with Ed and artist Don Meyer to expand from one weekend to the current two weekends. As the only actual money that we had was from the artist registration fees, we needed volunteers to help out. And we did have many wonderful volunteers - all working artists – who donated their time. They helped with mailings, brochure distribution, procuring food for events, and more. It was quite a lot considering that just by itself, our call for artists mailing list was 2,000. For the year 2001, Patrick King did a great job of designing the poster and also the ads for which the City Paper had agreed to donate space. In 2002, Debra Rosenblum did a wonderful job of designing our poster and ads and participating in meetings. Anne Boysen helped with fund raising and also faithfully attended meetings where she gave valuable input. All of this was done without any financial compensation.
After 3 years of organizing, and City budgeting cuts, POST continued for the 4th year under the auspices of Ellen Carver and the arts organization that she was affiliated with: the Mills at East Falls. By that time, I was glad to be able to get back to creating my own art – and once again have the time to take on paying work.
All in all, it makes me extremely happy that POST has continued and expanded over the last 10 years, now under the very able direction of CFEVA.
~ Karen Brown, 2009